DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
9 June 1999
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Fred Eckhard.
The Secretary-General's Special Envoys for the Balkans, Eduard Kukan and Carl Bildt, are in New York today. They are having consultations with the Secretary-General and will brief the Security Council today at 4 p.m. We have arranged for them to brief you immediately afterwards in room S-226.
United Nations agencies today appealed for a further $473.4 million over the next six months for emergency aid to around 1.5 million people affected by the conflict in Kosovo. The amount required includes improvement of facilities in the asylum countries, as summer sets in and preparation for the coming winter begins. There are also provisions for the possible return of the more than 780,000 refugees and displaced people in the region.
Once a peace agreement is concluded and an international military presence is established inside Kosovo, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that some 400,000 refugees and displaced persons from Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Montenegro will return to the province in the first three months. The UNHCR-led planning on return includes the possibility of large-scale spontaneous returns, the setting up of seven UNHCR satellite offices and the establishment of mobile teams to cover all of Kosovo's 30 municipalities.
That UNHCR paper, entitled Next Steps for the Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons to Kosovo, is available for you in my Office.
The UNHCR, the lead agency responsible for refugee return, will be fielding a small team, together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), to accompany the international military force to be deployed in Kosovo in order to be able to respond to immediate humanitarian needs. These United Nations agency staff members will precede the first wave of United Nations staff to be dispatched to post- conflict Kosovo.
The United Nations humanitarian agencies have also begun a mass information mine-awareness campaign for the Kosovar refugees.
In addition to the briefing by Special Envoys Kukan and Bildt, Security Council consultations this afternoon include Sierra Leone. Council members
will take up the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL), whose mandate expires this coming Sunday. Also today at 3 p.m. in Conference Room 7, there will be a troop-contributors' meeting on that mission.
Still on the Security Council, but moving to East Timor: the Secretary- General's report will be presented verbally to Council members tomorrow. We have made arrangements for Francesc Vendrell, Director of the Asia Division of the Department of Political Affairs, to brief you tomorrow after the Council is briefed. Mr. Vendrell will be here in room S-226 either as a guest in the noon briefing or at 2:30 in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Mission in East Timor has gained a major support base in Darwin, Australia, yesterday. The Northern Territory Government handed over a building, which will be the training centre for the field electoral officers and civilian police.
**Secretary-General's Address on Staff Security
Today, the Second Summit on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service is being held in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. In his address to the meeting, the Secretary-General said it could hardly be more timely, since the United Nations has just started a new mission in East Timor in a very troubling security environment, and it will soon be sending staff to Kosovo under no less hazardous conditions. He pointed out that since the first staff security summit last year, more than 20 United Nations civilian personnel had been killed.
The Secretary-General welcomed the entry into force last January of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel. He urged States that have not yet done so to sign that treaty, saying, "These are your own citizens venturing out into peril. They have a right to greater respect and assurance than you are giving them at present."
Copies of that speech are available upstairs.
**Secretary-General at Asia Society
At about 6:30 p.m. today, the Secretary-General will be going to the Asia Society here in New York. He has not prepared comments, but he will take questions from the audience there, and we will be monitoring that for you, as usual.
As announced yesterday afternoon, the regular weekly update from the Office of the Iraq Programme came out. A few points: first, the Secretary- General has now received the distribution plan for Phase VI of the "oil-for- food" programme. This will be studied over the coming days. Second, Iraq has already commenced exporting oil -- the first oil was exported on 1 June, and the Iraq Programme tells me that exports are continuing normally. Third, the United Nations has sent some oil experts to Iraq to work with government officials on another list of spare parts needed for the oil industry. The Secretary-General is due to report to the Council on the needs of the Iraq oil industry by the end of this month.
Copies of the weekly update are available in the Spokesman's Office.
**Population Award Ceremony
The Deputy Secretary-General will present the United Nations Population Award to two winners this afternoon: Iran's former Minister of Health and Medical Education, Dr. Seyed Alireza Marandi, and the Viet Nam National Committee for Population and Family Planning.
The Award Ceremony will take place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at 5 p.m. In addition to the Deputy Secretary-General, the two winners will also speak.
The Award is presented each year to individuals and institutions which have made outstanding contributions to increasing the awareness of population problems and to their solutions.
We expect copies of the Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to be available in my Office shortly. [It was later announced that the Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations, Gillian Martin Sorensen, would deliver the statement on behalf of the Deputy Secretary-General.]
**'Age Quake' Announcement
As part of the United Nations observance of the International Year of Older Persons, there will be a debate tomorrow morning on "the interdependence of generations: ability, not chronology" in the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Speakers will include Mozambique's Ambassador to the United Nations Carlos dos Santos, and the Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office of Development Studies, Ingeborg Kaul. We have a media advisory in our Office with more information.
Thanks to Kazakhstan, which gave us a cheque for over $685,000 today, we now have 73 Member States which made their payments in full so far this year.
And finally, the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) will be holding a briefing on economic prospects for Africa with Eloho Otobo, Senior Policy Analyst at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and Peter da Costa, ECA Senior Communications Adviser, at 2 p.m. today in the UNCA Lounge. All correspondents are welcome. [It was later announced that the briefing had been postponed until Thursday.]
Question: Did you say that the Secretary-General will not submit a written report about East Timor tomorrow?
Answer: Yes, it will be an oral report to the Council. But you can put any questions you have to Francesc Vendrell who will be making that report.
Question: What time do you expect the Security Council to have consultations on that matter tomorrow?
Answer: We expect this item to be taken up in the morning. If it is finished by the noon briefing, Vendrell will come here. If it goes past the noon briefing, we will ask him to come here at 2:30 p.m.
Question: What is the topic of the meeting between the Secretary- General and Eduard Kukan and Carl Bildt?
Answer: You know that there has been a major coordination meeting in Geneva -- the United Nations coordination for the rather daunting task that the G-8 has given it, namely, the organization and supervision of the entire civilian component of the implementation plan. I think that in the context of the intense planning that is going on right now within the United Nations system as a whole, they will be talking with the Secretary-General and briefing the Council.
Question: Could one of those gentlemen be the Special Representative of the Secretary-General?
Answer: I don't have any information for you on that subject, except that there is a preliminary list of possible candidates that the Secretary- General is studying, and he will make an announcement as soon as possible.
Question: Who else is on the list?
Answer: I did not say that either of the Special Envoys was on the list. I am not saying who is on the list. I do not know who is on the list.
Question: In Washington yesterday, did the Secretary-General get the backing of the United States Chamber of Commerce regarding the lobbying effort or was this a pitch for them to lobby the Congress on the debt?
Answer: It was not a pitch for them to lobby. The Secretary-General is seeking to expand the United Nations relations with the private sector, and that was the thrust of his speech. Of course, he would welcome support from any citizens groups, as well as the corporate sector, for payment by the United States Government of its obligations to the United Nations. We hope to have the Q-and-A transcribed, maybe by the end of the day today, depending on how fast they move at our Washington Information Office. We hope to have that available to you.
Question: When and where are Libya talks set for Friday?
Answer: Yes, they are scheduled for Friday. I don't know whether they are going to be held in the morning or in the afternoon. I do not know where in the building they will be. I assume, it will be the 38th floor.
Question: Do you have any information regarding the scheduling of the meeting between the Secretary-General and Bildt/Kukan and the meeting of the Council?
Answer: They will be in the Building. After they brief you here, Carl Bildt will leave New York this evening, and Eduard Kukan will stay on for an extra day or two. We can get the specifics of their programme for you if you are interested.
Question: What is the status of the Nauru and Kiribati application for the United Nations membership?
Answer: I do not have any update on the work of the Council on these two requests. I have to look into it for you.
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